[Video] How to keep your sales team successful (and sane) during uncertainty

If you’re like us, then you’re probably pretty tired of scrolling through social media only to see infographics on flattening contamination curves or listicles on how to improve your remote work strategy.

While that content is important and has its place - we wanted to share something different.

We thought it would be helpful to share the sales tactics that we are implementing at PandaDoc to ensure our revenue organization is able to hit the ground running. This mindset includes tangible actions that our executive leadership, product, and sales teams have quickly put in place to stay vigilant and keep the needle moving.

We hope our strategies offer you the inspiration you need to explore different options within your company during these uncertain times and throughout future challenges that we have yet to encounter.

Also, we wanted to send a reminder of how much we appreciate our talented sales representatives and account executives! 🤗 Go, team! Go!

Strategy #1: Deliver the right type of sales training during a crisis

When Patrick Downs, PandaDoc’s Sales Enablement & Training Manager, first posted on LinkedIn looking for ideas and suggestions on sales training, he was met with a variety of responses.

One of my favorite responses came from a sales leader who wrote:

There is not a guide to maneuver a global pandemic. In times of crisis, our addiction to control takes over and people teeter-totter on their emotions. If you have the right people, trust them to do what they think is best. Trust yourself knowing that you’ve provided them with tools and access.

A LinkedIn Sales Leader

While he appreciated the encouraging words, it didn’t stop Patrick from switching up PandaDoc’s regularly scheduled sales training into something different. Eventually, he tailored a few 45-minute remote sessions to provide a loose framework of support and strategies for our SDRs and Account Executives.

I’ve been seeing my team not knowing how to respond to concerns around COVID-19 as well as a shift in our business model.

Patrick Downs

Here’s a snapshot of what remote training looks like for Patrick and his team.

Here were the highlights from our training that we think would be most insightful for you.

  1. Clarify that while everything is changing, it’s still our job to sell. We still need to hit our numbers. We have to figure out how to do our jobs and continue to drive revenue.
  2. Understand that everyone is anxious. Not only are business problems affecting people, but personal concerns are distracting them. Questions that are on people’s minds include:
    • Will I still have a job?
    • Will I be OK?
    • Will my family be OK?
  3. A reminder that there are some underlying business questions that are now more important than ever. People are nervous, but some of the questions our prospects are wondering about include:
    • How are we going to hit our revenue forecasts?
    • How are my reps going to hit quota?
    • Will I lose my job?
    • What happens if half the workforce gets sick?
    • How do we conserve our budget?
  4. Prospects are more open to sharing and are more emotional. It’s important during this time that we check-in with our prospects and give them the space to open up to us. Even if it doesn’t result in a sale, they’ll remember the comfort we wanted to give them and that’s worth something. Your calls don’t need to be about selling a product right away. Maybe it can be a session to vent, and it’s possible to schedule a follow-up.
  5. With everything going on, why are prospects still looking for tools? Many inbound prospects are telling us that PandaDoc was a tool their business needed before COVID-19, so if they don’t move forward with it now then they are preventing themselves from being successful in the future. We can use this logic as social proof to handle crisis objections from folks who are struggling to see this point of view.
  6. Everyone is on LinkedIn right now. Think about using it to warm up leads. Leverage your professional network with a thoughtful post that hopefully creates engagement. Ask questions, look for advice, use hashtags (#), and post it. It takes 30 seconds. It needs to be authentic. You can get a boost in profile views and any activity from the post can be used to warm up some leads. If nothing, it’s a good way to engage and get a pulse on the industry about what others are doing.
    • Leave thoughtful comments on other posts to boost your own views
    • Build relationships through messages too
    • Use the voice message function through the LinkedIn mobile app
    • The first conversation doesn’t need to be about PandaDoc at all
  7. People are calling us and buying more licenses. Use this to challenge others. The people that already bought our software before the crisis started are understanding the necessity of tools like PandaDoc because their entire team is now remote. They want their entire company on it. We shouldn’t talk about pushing meetings back, we should talk about how anyone NOT using PandaDoc will function. If you’re cutting the budget because you’re scared, it’s understandable — but it’s probably not the wisest long term solution. An ROI calculator can help make this point. See below.
  8. Start using an ROI calculator and success KPIs to make a business case.
    Using an ROI calculator like this one we recently built is great for objection handling (especially during a crisis). This tool, combined with some of our more recent customer stats, can be extremely useful BEFORE presenting pricing. Telling the story of data and ROI tends to land in a different way for the prospect when delivering it this way because it focuses the conversation on a business need, rather than on a numbers game.

Obviously, our ROI calculator won’t fit your business per se, but you can model something similar for your own products and services to improve your pitch during these uncertain times.

Strategy #2: Help Your Sales Team With A New or Updated Product Offering

PandaDoc was (fortunately) already working on a FREE product as part of a previously planned 2020 lead generation strategy to help growing businesses worry less about how they can afford necessary software.

But our executive team made a decision to shift all of our development and product muscle behind this offering to bring it to life immediately. It was an absolutely Herculean effort from our employees. Some folks worked around the clock out to make this happen in under 48 hours. Bravo!

Our senior leadership understands that in moments like this, it’s important to show our true colors. Here is what PandaDoc CEO, Mikita Mikado, announced to our company:

We took a look at our own unique offerings and thought deeply about how we can help. We realized when documents are signed electronically, people don’t need to meet in person and businesses can continue to move without being put on hold. This is ultimately how we can help prevent a slowed economy.

Mikita Mikado

Furthermore, our Co-Founder and CTO, Sergey Barysiuk, led the charge on handling all of the questions about this quick roll-out and helped operationalize this plan with detailed announcements and feedback.

Read more about our free eSign Plan here.

During a crisis, it’s important to help your teams realize that time is of the essence. For PandaDoc, Sergey instilled a sense of urgency to solidify PandaDoc as a company that helps others during a time of need.

He was probed from employees about this decision and I absolutely loved his response:

We pulled an executive team meeting yesterday and made a decision to move fast. We are reacting to the change in the market and we need to implement this swiftly. We understand that it may add some questions and uncertainties, but we choose speed over perfection at this time. We will fix things as we move forward.

Sergey Barysiuk

Ultimately, by releasing this free eSign plan we’re putting people over profit.

Even if a prospect doesn’t want to (or can’t) purchase something with us now, at least we have an offering to help keep their business running and their deals coming in. The free plan can also help prospects who are worrying about the security of their own job by offering them a solution they can implement immediately with no cost to their business at all.

We recommend taking a look at how your business can make a difference during a time of uncertainty. Perhaps you can offer something the world needs help with too.

Strategy #3: Catalogue objections and collaborate on addressing them

One of the very first things our sales leadership decided to do in response to the global crisis was to set up the proper tracking so as to better understand the overall impact. With a global sales team scattered across 3 different countries, it’s vital for future interpretation and analysis that we catalog this new data correctly.

Our Sales Ops team and Salesforce Administrators were quick to set up new values for our reps to choose when tracking their deals. Specifically, they wanted to fine-tune our closed-lost values to include reduced activity due to COVID-19. We also made sure to separate renewals and new business opportunities so as to have the clearest picture of our funnel.

This type of data was especially important to our VP of Sales, Jim Donovan. He can now track the impact and address objections. He shared these drafted scripts with his teams to help.

The scenarios can look something like this:

Scenario 1: “Now is not a good time, we’d like to ‘push out’

[Prospect First name] – I totally understand, it’s difficult to focus on anything other than the pandemic at the moment. That’s why I’m following up. I’m finding focusing on what I can control (washing hands, staying home, keeping busy) is helping me pass time more quickly. PandaDoc tech is fueling handshake-free document traffic at a time when it’s critical, it’s keeping business alive during uncertain times. How about we find 15 minutes over the next few remote weeks to walk through. If not, we totally understand.

Scenario 2: “Most jarring event of our lifetime/scariest thing ever”

[Prospect First Name] – I’m with you on this, this is the scariest thing I’ve lived through. But I know we’re going to get through it and so I’m trying to focus forward towards our new reality. PandaDoc is getting flooded with requests from existing customers to add seats to their teams for the exact reason you originally reached out. Perhaps we could use this available remote time together to uncover whether or not there’s a real fit? With 15 mins of your time, we can see if there’s a match. How is tomorrow @ 10 am for you?

A business is only as successful as its sales team

During uncertain times, it can be easy to spiral toward the negative. More than ever, it’s critical to differentiate between realistic challenges and panic-stricken fear-mongering.

It feels a bit obvious to write this, but a business is only as successful as it’s revenue-facing teams. When we invest in the right training, products, tracking while working together, we can ensure the success of our friends on the frontlines.

We also want to give a special shout-out to the people that read this entire article up to this point. The simple fact that you’re even interested in trying to improve, tells us that you will rise above the challenges and become stronger.

This list of strategies is not all-encompassing. We know we could always be doing more. How are you and your sales teams navigating uncharted waters and handling uncertainty?

Best of luck and happy selling!

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